Failed 4 Times, Cracked the 5th Time: Kumar Ashirwad gets AIR 35

Kumar Ashirwad belongs to a village where electricity is a luxury and internet connection a futuristic notion. Facing all odds, he completed his schooling from Darjeeling and Jamshedpur and graduation from IIT Kharagpur.

In 2011, he went to Mukherjee Nagar to start his civil service preparation and it took him four attempts and five years to clear the exam with AIR 35.

His journey:

During these 5 years he admits to have committed every mistake that a candidate can make in their Civil services preparation. And hence he puts forth a list of suggestions that he feels will help to avoid the same mistakes.

  • You don’t have to study a lot for this exam, instead need a broad common sense and understanding of a wide variety of issues. He persuades, focus on broad understanding instead of deep understanding.

For instance, if there is some report, instead of reading the entire report read only its main features. This will save time and moreover, it’s easier to remember and write the key features. On the other hand, it is humanly impossible to remember and reproduce the entire report on answer sheet.

  • The parameters for choosing an optional subject are sometimes not rooted in reality. Do not make “interest in the optional” the only criteria. You should definitely not hate the optional subject, but interest holds only the first time you read the subject. Revisions are never interesting. So while choosing an optional please also take into consideration the recent performance of the subject, length of the syllabus, etc. While studying an optional for the first time go through the previous years’ question papers frequently and see whether you can answer the questions.
  • One should not read newspapers the whole day. The aim is to develop a broad understanding of important issues.
  • Join a Test Series where you can get personal guidance instead of any TS, because they enroll too many students and hence the quality of checking suffers. Note down the flaws at the back of each answer sheet. Read them for at least half an hour before the next test, so as not to repeat them.
  • You don’t need to study for 14-15 hours a day, 9-10 hours daily is enough. Most importantly, BE CONSISTENT. Give up the habit of studying for 14 hours a day, four days continuously, and then feeling so pleased that you give yourself a break for 2-3 days.
  • We all love to gather tips for UPSC, but understand that no two people are same. Do not blindly follow tips.

Prelims Strategy:

  • Reserve 2-3 months (as per your situation) exclusively for prelims. Apart from 1-2 hours for optional every day, the rest of these 2-3 months should be devoted entirely for prelims. Success rate in Prelims is nearly 1 in 40. The prelims preparation should be such that you are never in doubt about clearing prelims.

Mains Strategy:

  • The importance of repeated revision in UPSC cannot be overstated. Hence READ LESS, REVISE MORE.
  • Attempting the entire paper is a MUST. Check your writing speed in tests. Also try to improve your speed by giving lots of tests.
  • Give up the habit of writing very long answers at the start and very short answers at the end of the test. The length of your answers should be uniform.
  • Reserve 1 minute for reading the question 3 times. Read the question twice before starting to write the answer. In the second reading, circle the keywords of the question. Decide whether you can split up the keywords into subparts. Only then start answering the question.


“During your preparation, there will come a number of instances when you will be dejected and hopeless. It is inevitable. It is exactly in times such as these that you need to remember why you are here. You are here to serve the weakest and the poorest.”

User Avatar

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch